The Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana put its neck on the block on Monday by promising its customers a string of products roll-out programmes aimed at enhancing services in the banking sector’s battle for hearts and minds.
Standard Chartered, the oldest bank in the country with more than 150 years of existence, said it would soon roll-out cell-phone banking, bank assurance and investment but they would be presided by a well designed plan aimed at mobbing out loan-sharks from the market. The envisaged plans come right on the heels of its median credit card, dubbed smart credit card, Diva account and Express creditÔÇögeared towards small enterprises.
“Looking forward, we intend to roll-out sms capability for the customer so that they can be kept updated on how their accounts are performing,” Pierrer Mouirer, Head of Consumer Banking, said.
Further, he said as part of the bank’s commitment to install the culture of saving in the country, it would roll-out bank assurance and investment services. The lined-up services are expected to be launched before the end of the year.
The fast tracking of the new projects come at a time when the banking sector is involved in a myriad of new revolutions involving the right hiring, localization of senior positions and competitive market situation. SCBB wants to put itself as a “trusted business partner” and an innovative bank in a bid to steal the limelight from the First National Bank of Botswana.
Pressure is now mounting on SCBB and Barclays Bank of Botswana, the oldest banks that are also reaping a lot of profits from Botswana in the context of their African footprint. Each of them is netting as much as 40 percent of their operating profits from Botswana every year while the balance is made up by other African countries. SCCB has presence in 14 African countries while Barclays is in 10 countries.
SCBB’s London-based head of Capital Market, Ann Grant, said they have made some strategic alliances with Blue Financial Services, a micro-lending outfit, in a bid to expand its reach beyond its branches and those who fall-out of the bank’s credit threshold.
“We are working with micro-lenders because they know that market much better. And we would be able to service a large number of people at a lower costs,” she said, adding that the jury is still out on whether they will ultimately acquire Blue Financial Service. The move puts SCBB head to head with FNBB, which partnered with Adima Batswana at the opening of the century before it swallowed it to create the present day First Funding.
Its new Chief Executive Officer for Botswana, David Cutting, said the bank is seriously focusing on organic growth in a bid to deliver value to its shareholders. Some of the measures expected in the near future include an aggressive marketing in the northern parts of the country to take advantage of the mining boom in and around the Francistown area.
“I think the mining industry is going to expand. And we are looking at Francistown and the surrounding areas .We are also looking at Kasane, since we do not have a branch there. That is a potential growth area because of some lodges and hotels in that area,” Cutting told The Sunday Standard.